Fizik's Link R1 Snake shorts are very well designed and super-comfortable but – wow! – they're expensive.
First, a bit of background info. Fizik is now offering shorts that are designed to work with specific saddles, and those saddles are designed for certain types of riders. You can read about it here.
This all relates to Fizik's Spine Concept that divides riders into:
* Snakes, with high body flexibility and no pelvic rotation while pedalling.
* Bulls, with low body flexibility and high pelvic rotation while pedalling.
* Chameleons, who are somewhere in between.
I used the app and it told me that I was a snake by virtue of a stupidly flexible spine, and suggested the Arione R1 saddle – reviewed here. These match up with Link R1 Snake or Link R3 Snake shorts.
The theory is that a snake-type rider doesn't rotate their pelvis while riding, but instead flexes their spine in order to reach the handlebar. The Arione saddles suggested for snakes are long and flat (the idea being 'to guarantee a precise match between the rider's sit bones and the saddle surface, and to allow the maximum freedom of fore and aft movement on the saddle'), and the type of padding and its positioning in the Link R1 Snake shorts are designed to work specifically with Arione saddles and snake-type riders.
The seat pad – made by Elastic Interface, so the quality is guaranteed to be high – comprises a seamless moulded cover that sits next to your skin, and two 3D ring mouldings (one 4mm, the other 10mm, both 120kg/m3) sandwiched on top of a base layer.
I must say, I thought this Spine Concept stuff was OTT; a bit of marketing to differentiate Fizik's products from everyone else's. It's just a bike saddle and shorts, after all. But then I found the Link R1 Snake shorts exceptionally comfortable.
It's a fairly substantial pad that does a fabulous job of cushioning you from pressure whatever position you're riding in. Short rides, long rides, in between length rides... I've stayed comfortable without any issues at all. The pad breathes well to avoid too much sweatiness, the two sides can move independently as you pedal, and there are no seams to make you sore.
Even putting the pad to one side, the Link R1 Snake shorts are still very good, as you'd expect at this price.
They're made mostly from a polyamide/elastane woven fabric that doesn't readily take on water. It's not classed as water resistant but a little road spray will just bead up and roll off, and it dries out quickly too.
Although lightweight, the fabric feels quite compressive and the legs are long, extending almost down to the knees, so you get plenty of support for your quads. A silicone gripper inside the raw edge holds them in place well. Fizik has kept the number of seams low so there's not much scope for rubbing or coming unstitched.
The bib section is stretchy with wide straps that spread the load. They don't breathe as well as mesh straps but they hold everything in place well.
I've used these shorts on saddles other than the Arione too, and they've been equally impressive. Of course, Fizik wants you to buy the shorts and the saddle, and doubtless some combinations work better than others, but you don't need to feel tied into the brand, in my opinion.
One other thing that's worth mentioning is that the Link R3 Snake shorts are designed according to the same Spine Concept. The padding isn't quite as advanced and they're a little heavier but, on the other hand, they're a more palatable (but not cheap!) £165.
Overall, the Fizik Link R1 Snake shorts put in an exceptionally good performance, offering a fabulous level of comfort. It's just the price tag that's a whopping great obstacle.
Exceptionally comfortable shorts specifically designed to be used with a Fizik saddle... and then there's the price!
road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Link R1 Snake bib shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Fizik says, "The Link R1 Snake is extremely lightweight at just 155g. It's designed and cut for a racing fit, with the quick-drying woven fabric's ergo-centric pattern supporting the muscles to improve riding experience and performance. The material's density, thickness and module force are calibrated to offer the best compression and freedom of movement, with minimal seams for enhanced comfort. The 3D Molded chamois with seamless padding is shaped to align perfectly with the appropriate Fizik saddle and works in conjunction with the shape and length of the garment that's calibrated to deliver the best comfort and maximum performance when riding in the position identified by the Spine Concept EVO designation: Snake, Chameleon or Bull."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fizik lists this spec:
Materials: Lightweight woven fabrics, engineered density and module force for best compression and freedom of movement. Quick dry, welded seams.
Chamois: Breathable, 3D moulded, seamless, designed for Snake saddles
Leg Gripper: welded grip stripe, seamless
Weight: 155 g (size M)
These are well made, the pad being particularly impressive.
About normal. I take either a medium or a large and went for medium here. They have a compressive feel and that works for me.
At £250, these are among the most expensive shorts we've ever reviewed on road.cc. They're super-comfortable, but so are many shorts that are cheaper than these.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They go in the wash at 30°C with most other cycling stuff. You're not supposed to tumble dry them and I wouldn't because that's asking for the logos to come off.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Exceptionally well. The fit and comfort are both exceptionally good.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The level of comfort, the slightly compressive feel, long leg length.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Without a doubt.
Would you consider buying the product? If they were cheaper, no question about it.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
These would be a 9 but for the price. They might even get a 9 if they were £190, say. But £250 is a shed load of cash.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.